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It’s fraught with conflicts of interests, often viewed as suspicious by other employees and could even open the door to lawsuits, experts said.
Hanna Callaghan, director of the government ethics program at the Santa Clara University Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, says in general employees might question whether the employee dating the chief executive has an unfair advantage in getting the next promotion or “plumb assignment.” “It’s the sort of conflict of interest that would arise in any business situation,” Callaghan said.
The union is currently negotiating a new labor contract with city leaders.
The sources say Pulido harshly criticized Cavazos for carrying on the relationship during a meeting with union leaders.
But government ethics experts say a romantic relationship between a city manager and a city employee crosses ethical lines.
City officials had at first refused to disclose the letter, arguing that it was exempt from the law’s disclosure requirements because it involved a personnel matter.
They relented after Kelly Aviles, an open records attorney working with Voice of OC, argued the exemption doesn’t apply to high-ranking public officials like Cavazos.
“To make the assumption that there will be some type of mishandling of a potential promotion, I think it’s getting really ahead of the game, and I’m more inclined to let my employees live their personal lives… “I want happy employees and happy employees produce work.
It’s a benefit for the city and the community for people to be able to live their personal lives in a way they can enjoy.” Benavides said making an issue out of the relationship might be “personally motivated” – a veiled reference to Pulido and Martinez – but stopped short of naming anyone. Councilwoman Angelica Amezcua’s response was somewhat critical of Cavazos’ choice, but she also said that from a larger perspective the city manager has been doing a “great job” administering the city.